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A man of wisdom must never praise himself

In his latest missive to me, Preetam Giani, who is an outstanding champion of rights of homosexuals has sent me his modified version of one of Shakespeare’s well-known sonnets, I reproduce both:

columns Updated: Jul 14, 2012 22:21 IST
Khushwant Singh
Khushwant Singh

In his latest missive to me, Preetam Giani, who is an outstanding champion of rights of homosexuals has sent me his modified version of one of Shakespeare’s well-known sonnets, I reproduce both:


Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, lust
Is perjur’d, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame
savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoy’d no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted, and, no soon had,
Past reason hated, as a swallowed bait,
On purpose laid to make the taker mad — Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss proof, and prov’d, a very woe;
Before, a joy propos’d; behind a dream
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well
To shun the heaven that leads men to this hell.

Preetam Giani’s:

Homosexual indulgence means wasting one’s spirit while incurring Shame;
and till its indulgence, homosexual desire is
Dishonest, homicidal, violent, thoroughly reprehensible,
Brutal, excessive, crude, vindictive and unreliable,
No sooner is it gratified than it’s immediately despised;
It is pursued beyond reason, and no sooner fulfilled
Than it’s hated beyond reason, like a swallowed bait
That’s been placed on purpose to drive the victim mad — Mad in the pursuit as well as in the attainment of desire
Obsessive whether seeking to gratify it or having gratified it.
Prospectively blissful, it’s retrospectively agonising,
Delightful before hand but unsubstantial afterwards.
All this everyone knows well; what no one knows well
Is how to avoid the heaven that leads one to this hell.

Sardar Sipahi

When General JJ Singh, the first Sikh to become chief of the Indian army, came to seek my advice before writing his autobiography, I quoted Shaikh Saadi’s lines in Persian to him:

Sane-e-khud-bakhud guftan
No zebad mard-e-daana ra
Choon zan pistaan-e-khud maalad
Kuja lazzat shaved baki
(It does not behove a man of wisdom
To use his tongue in praise of himself
Like a woman who with her own hands rubs her breasts
What pleasure can it ever beget?)

“Go ahead, I wish you luck”, I said, “but don’t praise yourself. Self praise puts off readers.”

His autobiography has just been published: A Soldier’s General: An Autobiography (Harper Collins). The General ignored my advice. With so many battles fought and won, the rapid rise from a Cadet to the top-most position in what is perhaps the second largest army in the world, the mere narration of facts would read like an eulogy. You can’t blame him. He writes good, lucid prose and you learn a great deal about the Armed Forces. He is currently Governor of Arunachal Pradesh to keep an eye on Chinese movements across the border.


Sir, I refer to the recent death of the Technical Manager at your company and hereby apply for replacement of the deceased manager.

Each time I apply for a job, I get a reply that there is no vacancy, but in this case I have caught you red handed and you have no excuse because I even attended the funeral to be sure thst he was truly dead and buried before applying. Attached is a copy of my CV and his death certificate.


Doctor: Any history of insanity in the family?
Lady: Yes, my husband thinks he is the Boss.


On a train from London to Manchester, an American was berating the Englishman sitting across from him in the compartment. “You English are too stuffy. You set surselves apart too much. You think your stiff upper lip makes you above the rest of us. Look at me. I have Italian blood, French blood, a little Indian blood, and some Swedish blood. What do you say to that?”

The Englishman replied: “Awfully sporting of your mother, old chap.”

(Contributed by Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)

The views expressed by the author are personal

First Published: Jul 14, 2012 22:17 IST